Power and Progress

Our Thousand-Year Struggle Over Technology and Prosperity

Daron Acemoglu author Simon Johnson author

Format:Hardback

Publisher:John Murray Press

Published:18th May '23

£25.00

Available for immediate dispatch.

Power and Progress cover

LONGLISTED FOR THE BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE

LONGLISTED FOR THE FINANCIAL TIMES AND SCHRODERS BUSINESS BOOK OF THE YEAR

A FINANCIAL TIMES TECHNOLOGY BOOK OF THE YEAR

'The blueprint we need for the challenges ahead' Shoshana Zuboff

'If you are not already an addict of Daron Acemoglu and Simon Johnson's previous books, Power and Progress is guaranteed to make you one' Jared Diamond

'A breathtaking tour of the history and future of technology' Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo

A bold new interpretation of why technology has all too often benefited elites - and how we must reshape the path of innovation to create true shared prosperity.


A thousand years of history and contemporary evidence make one thing clear. Progress is not automatic but depends on the choices we make about technology. New ways of organizing production and communication can either serve the narrow interests of an elite or become the foundation for widespread prosperity.

Much of the wealth generated by agricultural advances during the European Middle Ages was captured by the Church and used to build grand cathedrals while the peasants starved. The first hundred years of industrialization in England delivered stagnant incomes for workers, while making a few people very rich. And throughout the world today, digital technologies and artificial intelligence increase inequality and undermine democracy through excessive automation, massive data collection, and intrusive surveillance.

It doesn't have to be this way. Power and Progress demonstrates that the path of technology was once - and can again be - brought under control. The tremendous computing advances of the last half century can become empowering and democratizing tools, but not if all major decisions remain in the hands of a few hubristic tech leaders striving to build a society that elevates their own power and prestige.

With their breakthrough economic theory and manifesto for a better society, Acemoglu and Johnson provide the understanding and the vision to reshape how we innovate and who really gains from technological advances so we can create real prosperity for all.

If you are not already an addict of Daron Acemoglu and Simon Johnson's previous books, Power and Progress is guaranteed to make you one. It offers their addictive hallmarks: sparkling writing and a big question that affects our lives . . . Read, enjoy, and then choose your lifestyle! -- Jared Diamond, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of GUNS, GERMS, AND STEEL
In this brilliant, sweeping review of technological change past and present, Acemoglu and Johnson mean to grab us by the shoulders and shake us awake before today's winner-take-all technologies impose more violence on global society and the democratic prospect. This vital book is a necessary antidote to the poisonous rhetoric of tech inevitability . . . Power and Progress is the blueprint we need for the challenges ahead -- Shoshana Zuboff, author of THE AGE OF SURVEILLANCE CAPITALISM
One powerful thread runs through this breathtaking tour of the history and future of technology, from the Neolithic agricultural revolution to the ascent of artificial intelligence: Technology is not destiny, nothing is pre-ordained . . . In this age of relentless automation and seemingly unstoppable consolidation of power and wealth, Power and Progress is an essential reminder that we can, and must, take back control -- Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, 2019 Nobel laureates in Economics
A sweeping history of more than a thousand years of technical change . . . An important book that is long overdue -- Sir Angus Deaton, 2015 Nobel laureate in economics
A book you must read: compelling, beautifully written, and tightly argued, it addresses a crucially important problem with powerful solutions -- Rebecca Henderson, author of REIMAGINING CAPITALISM IN A WORLD ON FIRE
Acemoglu and Johnson would like a word with the mighty tech lords before they turn over the entire world economy to artificial intelligence. The lesson of economic history is technological advances such as AI won't automatically lead to broad-based prosperity-they may end up benefiting only a wealthy elite . . . it's a bracing wake-up call for the rest of us -- Niall Ferguson, author of THE SQUARE AND THE TOWER
This singular book elevated my understanding of the present confluence of society, economics, and technology. Here we have a synthesis of history and analysis coupled with specific ideas about how the future can be improved. It pulls no punches but also inspires optimism -- Jaron Lanier, author of TEN ARGUMENTS FOR DELETING YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS RIGHT NOW
The technology of artificial intelligence is moving fast and likely to accelerate. This powerful book shows we now need to make some careful choices to really share the benefits and reduce unintended, adverse consequences. Technology is too important to leave to the billionaires. Everyone everywhere should read Acemoglu and Johnson - and try to get a seat at the decision-making table -- Ro Khanna, Silicon Valley member of Congress
A remarkable analysis of the current drama of technology evolution versus human dignity . . . Acemoglu and Johnson offer a fresh vision of how this drama unfolds by highlighting human capabilities and social skills. They are deeply informed, masters at synthesis, and passionate about shaping a better future where innovation supports equality -- Ben Schneiderman, author of HUMAN-CENTERED AI
Will the AI revolution increase the average worker's productivity while recusing their drudgery, or will it simply create more exploitative and heavily surveilled workplaces run by robotic overlords? That is the right question, and luckily Acemoglu and Johnson have set out to answer it, giving it profound historical context, combing through the economic incentives, and lighting a better path forward -- Cathy O’Neil, author of WEAPONS OF MATH DESTRUCTION and THE SHAME MACHINE
Renowned MIT economists Daron Acemoglu and Simon Johnson explain in their important and lucid book how the transformation of work could make life even worse for most people, or, possibly, much better - depending on the political and social and technological choices we make starting now . . . With revealing, relevant stories from throughout economic history and sensible ideas for systemic reform, this is an essential guide for this crucial battle in the 'one-thousand-year struggle' between the powerful and everyone else -- Kurt Anderson, author of EVIL GENIUSES
Two of the best economists alive today are taking a closer look at the economics of technological progress in history. Their findings are as surprising as they are disturbing. This beautifully written and richly documented book marks a new beginning in our thinking about the political economy of innovation -- Joel Mokyr, professor of economics and history, Northwestern University
Technology is upending our world - automating jobs, deepening inequality, and creating tools of surveillance and misinformation that threaten democracy. But Acemoglu and Johnson show it doesn't have to be this way. The direction of technology is not, like the direction of the wind, a force of nature beyond human control. It's up to us. This humane and hopeful book shows how we can steer technology to promote the public good. Required reading for everyone who cares about the fate of democracy in a digital age -- Michael J. Sandel, author of THE TYRANNY OF MERIT
Here, from two of the greatest economists of our time, we have the definitive refutation of the techno-determinist story that has held us back from building a better future for the last four decades. With a bit of luck, we may look back at this as a turning point where we collectively once again took responsibility for defining the world we want technology to empower us to live in together -- E. Glen Weyl, research lead and founder, Decentralized Social Technology Collaboratory, Microsoft Research Special Projects
Faced with fresh upheaval, the authors make a positive case for how societies can maximise the benefits of our powerful new technologies to the advantage of all -- Financial Times, 'Best Books of 2023 - Technology'
A call to arms -- Irish Times
Important and absorbing -- Observer
An important new book -- Bloomberg
Renowned MIT economists Daron Acemoglu and Simon Johnson explain in their important and lucid book how the transformation of work could make life even worse for most people, or, possibly, much better - depending on the political and social and technological choices we make starting now . . . With revealing, relevant stories from throughout economic history and sensible ideas for systemic reform, this is an essential guide for this crucial battle in the "one-thousand-year struggle" between the powerful and everyone else -- Kurt Andersen, author of EVIL GENIUSES

Acemoglu and Johnson would like a word with the mighty tech lords
before they turn over the entire world economy to artificial intelligence.
The lesson of economic history is technological advances such as AI
won't automatically lead to broad-based prosperity - they may end up
benefiting only a wealthy elite. Just as the innovations of the Gilded
Age of American industrialization had to be reined in by progressive
politics, so too, in our Coded Age, we need not only trade unions, civil
society, and trustbusters, but also legislative and regulatory reforms to
prevent the advent of a new panopticon of AI-enabled surveillance.
This book will not endear the authors to Microsoft executives, but it's a
bracing wake-up call for the rest of us

-- Niall Ferguson, Milbank Family Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and author of THE SQUARE AND THE TOWER
Two of the best economists alive today are taking a closer look at the economics of technological progress in history. Their findings are as surprising as they are disturbing. This beautifully written and richly documented book marks a new beginning in our thinking about the political economy of innovation -- Joel Mokyr, Robert H. Strotz Professor of Arts and Sciences, Northwestern University, and author of THE LEVER OF RICHES: TECHNOLOGICAL CREATIVITY AND ECONOMIC PROGRESS
This singular book elevated my understanding of the present confluence of society, economics, and technology. Here we have a synthesis of history and analysis coupled with specific ideas about how the future can be improved. It pulls no punches, but also inspires optimism -- Jaron Lanier, author of TEN ARGUMENTS FOR DELETING YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS RIGHT NOW
A breathtaking tour of the history and future of technology -- Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, Nobel Laureates in Economics, 2019
Power and Progress offers Daron Acemoglu and Simon Johnson's addictive hallmarks: sparkling writing, and a big question that affects our lives -- Jared Diamond, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of GUNS, GERMS, AND STEEL
Power and Progress is the blueprint we need for the challenges ahead: technology only contributes to shared prosperity when it is tamed by democratic rights, values, principles, and the laws that sustain them in our daily lives -- Shoshana Zuboff, author of THE AGE OF SURVEILLANCE CAPITALISM
Acemoglu and Johnson take aim at economists' mindless enthusiasm for technical change and their crippling neglect of power. An important book that is long overdue -- Sir Angus Deaton, Nobel Laureate in Economics, 2015
A book you must read: compelling, beautifully written and tightly argued, it addresses a crucially important problem with powerful solutions -- Rebecca Henderson, author of REIMAGINING CAPITALISM IN A WORLD ON FIRE
The technology of artificial intelligence is moving fast and likely to accelerate. This powerful book shows we now need to make some careful choices, to really share the benefits and reduce unintended adverse consequences. Technology is too important to leave to the billionaires. Everyone everywhere should read Acemoglu and Johnson - and try to get a seat at the decision-making table -- Ro Khanna, Silicon Valley Member of Congress
A remarkable analysis of the current drama of technology evolution vs human dignity, where the potent forces boosting inequality continue to destroy our belief in the nobility of work and the inevitability of egalitarian progress -- Ben Schneiderman, author of HUMAN-CENTERED AI
Acemoglu and Johnson give an incisive analysis of the economics of labor and technology, along with a trenchant critique of the "techno-optimism" of corporate visionaries . . . a stimulating call for social and political action to ensure the rising tide of innovation lifts all boats -- Publishers Weekly
Argues that humankind has thrived whenever it had brought technology under widespread control - and that we can do so again. * Prospect *

ISBN: 9781399804455

Dimensions: 238mm x 166mm x 52mm

Weight: 847g

560 pages